For cult movie buffs, Tunisia is one of the destinations where you can conceive your own cinematographic itinerary. From the North of the country to the south, you can go from one movie location to another and seize the feeling of famous directors who had been there to film what we now know are cult movies.
It’s no surprise Star Wars fans know Tunisia and its filming sites before anyone else. George Lucas picked more than 5 movie locations in Tunisia to film the saga. You can literally follow the path of Luke and Skywalker.
Other movies have also been filmed in Chott Jerid and Ong Jmal, most notably The English Patient. The desert camp of Count Almásy was situated at the base of Ong Jmal and additional desert sequences were filmed close by. Interestingly, Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, served as the film's wartime Cairo because Egypt had undergone too many changes for it to be filmed there.
When Monty Python made the decision to leave the country to make their third and finest film, Life of Brian, they had already completed two films in the United Kingdom. Tunisia was their next filming site. The movie made its debut in 1979 and was a work of extraordinary beauty and brilliance.
Whether you’re interested in sightseeing the Star Wars filming sites only, or you are curious to delve deep in other movie locations, Wildyness rounded up a full list of movie locations in Tunisia.
The Roman Theater of Carthage
The Grandeur of Carthage
Carthage is deemed to be one of the most influential civilizations of antiquity. If there is one thing all Tunisians agreed to be proud of, it would be unanimously Hannibal. Renowned for leading the Carthaginian army and a herd of elephants across southern Europe and the Alps Mountains to battle Rome, Hannibal ushered a new historical era in ifriqiya.
During the Punic Wars, the Carthaginian civilization went through a lot. After this period, many architectural monuments, including “The Roman Theater of Carthage”, were left to bear witness to a great civilization in the region.
The Culture of Carthage
The majestic Carthage theater has withstood the test of time and dates all the way back to the second century AD. It is earthquake-resistant thanks to its intricate staircase and cave system. It was mostly utilized in the past for theater productions and other cultural activities including poetry readings and philosophical discussions.
In the 70s, the Monty Python crew made the decision to travel to Tunisia in order to find the suitable film locations. The Roman Theater of Carthage catered for their need with its richness in texture and an overarching sense of nostalgia.
Ribat of Monastir
Ribat of Monastir is deemed to be one of the earliest and most significant of the defensive structures not only inTunisia, but also along the coast of the Maghreb by Arab. Hence, it gained its title as the most significant and historic ribat in the Maghreb.
As its name denotes, the Ribat is situated in the city of Monastir on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Throughout historical milestones, this structure had numerous restorations. The Ribat holds the prayer chamber, as well as the modest cells of the "monk-warriors," who, while performing their military tasks, dedicated themselves to prayer and meditation.
Movies Filmed in Monastir
This site was also picked by Monty Python realisator to film the majority of the movie. It helped infuse the genuine sense of claustrophobia the director wanted to introduce throughout the movie.
Before The Monty Python, Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth used the site to film one of the rare Biblical films. It's the ideal setting for adding drama, trauma, and setting to the daily self-efforts that the folks in question put out. The center setting emphasizes the movie's thesis, which is that the average person must utilize every tool at his disposal to fight the forces in hand.
Medina of Kairouan
Founded in 670 AD, Kairouan was previously Tunisia’s capital in the 12th Century. Nowadays, it is one of the most renowned cities in the Islamic world as it is one of the holiest places in Islam and the first capital of the Islamic Maghreb.
The Medina of Kairouan never ceases to enchant visitors with the distinct allure and architecture.
The numerous tomb domes scattered throughout the city gives Kairouan the aura of a sacred city thanks to the numerous tomb domes. More than this, the city is a living historical proof of a great period in the history of Islam.
Some of these revered sanctuaries include Sidi Sahbi's, which is a charming and warm place surrounded by patios and brightened with multicolored porcelain.
Copyright: Malek Abdeli
The Culture of Kairouan
Kairouan is also known for its handicraft. Ranging from carpets to the hayek, the souk in Kairouan has many stores and stalls where you can find carpets like mergoum and klims besides traditional clothes including hayek. The hayek is a traditional cloth used to design dresses and blankets.
After some logistics issues, the Indiana Jones scenes were filmed in Kairouan instead of Cairo. As both cities share some similarities, the Medina of Kairouan served as a major movie location.
Mednine Governorate is known for the scattered Ksours all over the region. In the early 10th century, 35 ksours were built with more than 6000 rooms in total. But today, few of them have survived the test of time and the effect of modernity.
Sacrificed for the sake of the “modern city”, the Ksar of Mednine remains at the heart of the downtown to give it authenticity and plasticity.
Movies filmed in Medenine
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace features Ksar Medenine twice. At the first time when Anakin Skywalker guides his new friends to his house in the sandstorm and a second time when he races back to his mother just before he leaves with Qui-Gon Jinn.
Both appearances took place in the same location. One of three ksars constructed in the vicinity of Tataouine to symbolize the Slave Quarters Row on Tatooine.
Ajim, which is situated in the southwest of the island of Djerba and is separated from the mainland by the Ajim canal, which is about 2.5 km long, is one of the most significant cities on Djerba after Houmt Souk and Midoun.
In Ajim, we can find La Cantina which is a traditional berber bakery transformed into the Mos Eisley Cantina in the Star Wars Saga. It was a drinking and dining place located in the city of Mos Eisley on the desert world of Tatooine.
The place survived modernity thanks to an international campaign fighting against its destruction.
In the 10th century CE, the mosque was known as the Ibadi mosque before being renamed Amghar. Nowadays, it’s deemed as a decommissioned religious site used by fishermen. Located three kilometers north of Ajim on the seaside road that leads to Sidi Jemour, the site served as the only Star Wars film site in Tunisia filmed strictly as a plate.
It was the decor utilized to film Ben Kenobi's residence during his exile on Tatooine in April 1976.
Sidi Bouhlel Canyons
Tataouine, Tozeur, and Djerba have always been listed in the bucket list of cinema buffs, especially Star Wars enthusiasts. This comes as no surprise given that in the Star Wars narrative, these cities were present when the planet Tatooine was created. The new major characters Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke were born on this desolate world, which also saw the introduction of numerous events.
But not that far from Tozeur and near the Algerian borders lies Bouhlel canyons promising Star Wars buffs one of the most inspiring hikes in a lifetime.
The Bouhlel Hike
Bouhlel canyons now serve a hiking route designed to create and organize the lesser-known and less frequently included movie loops in the itineraries. Enhancing the area's natural and cultural legacy is a goal of WildyNess and its collaborators.
The Bouhlel hike offers visitors to the locations where Sidi Bouhlel was filmed the chance to make the most of their trip by going on a hike that will help them learn more about the surrounding natural landscape and the cultural legacy of the marbouts. Visitors can select from two tours built using Google Maps based on their preferences, availability, and level of physical effort.
Bouhlel Hike will give locals in the Dgueche region the opportunity to assist tourists and introduce them to the region's unique foods, crafts, and other attractions.
The Mos Espa set is located in the outlying region of Ong Jemal and only a 90-minute drive from Tozeur. It has the name of Mos Espa, the spaceport town in Star Wars Saga. On the arid world of Tatooine, the colony featured a variety of retail stores, office buildings, and entertainment venues like the Mos Espa Grand Arena.
Anakin Skywalker and his mother Shmi were among the slaves that lived in Mos Espa during the Naboo Invasion.
The set has been kept amazingly well; close to the generator plant that once powered the production, there are still a number of crew and cast restrooms. Boards are sprinkled throughout in front of significant structures explaining their involvement in the plot and featuring stills from the finished movies as a welcome reference to tourism.
In the heart of the Sahara, you will get a glimpse inside the world of Hollywood before computer-generated imagery was possible and when sets had to accurately convey size and scale.
A portion of a wide expanse of sand dunes and salt lakes that stretches for thousands of kilometers between Tunisia and Algeria. Still in Nefta, the Sahara is here to amaze you and transport you to the planet tatooine.
Famously, George Lucas said that Tunisia was the only location on Earth where the Star Wars series were filmed from the top of a rock. The rock he was referring to is the rock lending its name to the region.
it resembles a camel’s neck and Ong is literally the Arabic word denoting it. After visiting Mos Espa, Ong Jmal will help you get a grasp of why it was filmed this way.
Chott El Jerid
Chott El Jerid is a salt pan where you can explore a unique landscape combining dry and salty atmosphere. Chott El Jerid, a location close to Nefta, served as both the outside of The Lars Homestead and the Tatooine desert where Luke Skywalker was raised. The oddly formed igloo that is still present there today.
This very location is very easy to include in your travel itinerary in the South of Tunisia as it’s adjacent to a lot of other destinations in Nefta, Tozeur and Matmata.
Hotel Sidi Driss
Matmata is one of the most famous Tunisian villages for cinema buffs. It’s where a lot of cult scenes were filmed. In Monty Python, the scene that dropped jaws in 1979 portraying the Pythons receiving the foresight and guts to capture Jesus Christ delivering a sermon on the mount. Matmata also host a known hardcore-star-war destination: Hotel Sidi Driss.
Hotel Sidi Driss and Star Wars
The Lars farm scenes from Star Wars were shot at the Sidi Idriss Hotel. The lodging is basic as the rooms were constructed from individual caves carved into the rock and bathrooms are shared. The architecture aspect is one of the Berber villages south Tunisia boasts of.
The location is genuinely unique and you have the flexibility to choose whether to spend the night there or just a day visiting.
If you’re going to spend the night there, it’s recommended to book before months of your trip especially in the peak season.
Location: Ksar Hdada
Five kilometers from Ghomrassen and around 80 kilometers from Tataouine, Ksar Hadada in Tataouine is a known ksar in the south of Tunisia built in the 18th century CE.
As many other destinations in the semi-arid tunisian Sahara, it can reach daytime temperatures equal to 50°C in summer while overnight lows can reach 0°C in the winter.
Fortresses known as ksour (plural of ksar) were erected on top of mountains to guard the crops from the numerous looters. Alveoli created multiple granaries under a guard's supervision by gathering fodder, oil, and cereals.
Parts of the ksar are now hotel rooms where travelers can stay. It was partially used by director George Lucas as a filming site to build the Tatooine settlement of Mos Espa, where Anakin Skylwalker was born in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.